Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Canada's Birthday & all the way to the end of Minnewanka

Last Thursday (1 July) was Canada's one-hundred & forty-third birthday & a public holiday - Canada Day (I was surprised to find that Canada, in that respect, is younger than NZ). I opted not to work, unfortunately Megan had to - so it was just Alex & I (from our house) that wandered a block or two down to the Rotarian's Pancake Breakfast. There was a surprisingly large crowd down at Centennial Park at nine in the morning - as well as the pancakes, there were some fun-runs (an oxymoron if I ever saw one) going on & a few clowns wandering around. The Rotary Club must be well organised as they were pumping out the pancakes & had nifty little implements to dispense the batter on the grills.I was surprised to see that they were serving beef patties with the pancakes & syrup - I'm used to pancakes & bacon & all sorts of other things, but meat patties? It turned out to be a pretty good combination & after seconds (not sure that four patties that early in the morning is a great idea, but the ride in the afternoon burned them off), we headed out to go & pick up a bed from the other side of town. (I moved house last weekend, not far - it was great living with Megan & Alex since my arrival here, but it makes perfect sense for me to move out before the baby arrives & keeps me awake all night!) Dropping the bed back at Steve's (my new flatmate) with the use of his rather shiny & rather large Dodge pick-up, we all headed back to Alex's to watch the Canada Day Parade. For a small town, Canmore apparently has a pretty good parade. It must be, because wandering down the main street early in the morning the street was lined with chairs that people had put out to reserve a good spot!
Our street was on the parade route (being one back from main street has many advantages), so we manoeuvred the couch on to the balcony, cracked open some beers & sat in the sun amused by the antics of bogans across the road - we still haven't worked out the equivalent Canadian word for 'bogan'. The parade ended up being ninety minutes long & there were so many horses & Scottish pipe bands. Unlike the float parades I'm used to seeing, there weren't any big flat deck trucks (due to the tight corners on the route, we imagine) - just pick-ups, vans & cars.There were plenty of older guys hooning around in little planes & cars - an Imperial Stormtrooper even made an appearance. Here is also a nice big red shiny ladder unit from the local fire department.
The bogans' water-bombing acts were still amusing us, especially when the bush fire brigade fought back a little & the youths at the next house but one started lobbing water bombs over the house (more of a cabin really) in between them.

Not feeling particularly motivated to struggle against the holiday traffic or go for an epic ride, we eventually settled on riding to Banff on the Rundle Riverside Trail & then getting a ride back with Megan after she finished work. This ride started off by heading up to the Nordic Center & riding down the main thoroughfare (Banff Avenue) to the end of the park & then continuing on the rather rough trail before hitting the golf course & Banff eventually. Leaving the Nordic Center the trail deteriorated rapidly & was ridiculously rooty & therefore bumpy. The long downhill was great fun & then we were mostly beside the Bow River battling the roots.
Somewhere along here Alex managed to drop his chain & then wrap it around the cranks a bit & then jam it between the rings & the suspension pivots. It was proving difficult to extricate, until I found a fork in my Camelbak that worked a treat - the fork must have been in there for a couple of days, & proved more useful than just a lunch eating utensil. Avoiding stray golf balls we were soon at the falls below Banff Springs - not nearly as impressive as the Huka Falls - but with just as many Asian tourist.
Riding through Banff, Alex & I managed to get separated in the madness - we met again near the start of their parade. It turned out the times for the parades must have been staggered for good reason as we saw a lot of the same people doing the same thing. One difference that we saw was the inclusion of a Brewster Icefield (Glacier) Bus that had difficultly getting around the corner on to Banff Avenue.I got my token Canada flag & we were off to meet Megan & go home. The last part of Canada Day festivities for me was the small fireworks display - not nearly as grand as the July 4 displays I saw in San Diego last year, but the setting of the mountains & the sound echoing off them was pretty neat. As it is just past the longest day, the display didn't start until almost 10.40.
As I mentioned, I moved house over the weekend - not too onerous a task considering I don't have a lot of possessions with me. The weekend's big ride was to go back to Minnewanka (Alex & I rode & got quite wet there four weeks ago) & get to the end of the lake. It was quite a cloudy start to Saturday & by the time I watched the Germans thrash the Argentinians & Alex bled his rear brakes again it was 11 o'clock when we left the car park. The big (& only real) climb was much easier in the dry & we met very few walkers at the start of the trail. It was supposed to be thirty-five kilometres to the end (& thirty-five back obviously), but we made good time & the turnaround point ended up being ten kilometres less than we expected. We had lunch at the turnaround point - after climbing over a lot of driftwood. The last part of the trail before lunch was a lot of clambering & carrying of bikes over some rocks; but also around here the summer flowers had started to proliferate the undergrowth (Alex put a bit off effort in to identifying some of those that we saw).
The sun even graced with its presence on the way back, which was nice. Once we got back to the Warden's Hut (where we turned around last time) we started to see a lot more riders - our fitness must be improving as we weren't passed all day & did get to pass quite a few others.

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